East Grinstead away, Prem - 1 Dec 2007
It was Purley's first trip to East Grinstead, but due to EG having both of their teams at home the match was switched to an astroturf pitch just down the road. Since rumour has it the EG ground can be quite muddy, it can't be said Purley were unhappy with this arrangement. When the teams had met in a pre-season friendly Purley had only just squeaked a single goal victory, so this match-up would be a good barometer of how much they had improved since their poor start to the season.
Purley started steadily, and though their attack was slightly off the boil they had plenty of possession to work with, as their well organised defence was regularly turning the ball over. Purley also showed they had learnt from their previous encounter, as they assigned Dean Searle to stifle Grinstead's main attacking threat - a job which he excelled at all afternoon.
Being only 2-0 down at the quarter East Grinstead could well be forgiven for thinking they were still in with a shout, but it was the second quarter when Purley really started to dominate, and five goals saw them to a comfortable 7-0 half time lead. Tim Richmond also marked his return after 2 years out through injury and semi-retirement with 2 goals at the end of the quarter. The Thunder from Down Under had attempted to break his duck in style, first attempting a round the back shot, and then a flick on as he received the ball with his back to goal (though it did come off when he tried it again in the third quarter), but had to settle for finishing off a well worked team move in the end.
Purley continued to amass the goals in the third quarter, and even keeper Paul Terry managed to get himself an assist as Purley's set clear opened up the middle of the field for him to run up, and when it looked like he was going to run in to take a shot the defence swarmed to intercept him, which left the pass open to Graeme Holland close to goal, and he slotted home.
The final quarter was much of the same, though there was still one thing on the Purley defences' mind. No-one had even mentioned the S-word (Purley know how not to jinx the shut-out), but as the game approached the final whistle they made their defence sweat when after going man-down for 30 seconds they immediately went off-side to go two men down, but the defence managed to hold to bring the final score to 16-0.
To be fair East Grinstead probably didn't deserve the shut-out, having hustled and battled all game long, but as they found out the Premiership can be a tough place for newly promoted sides.
Goals: Dennis McKenna 5, Tim Richmond 3, Graeme Holland 3, John Maydick 2, Jamie Tasko 1, Mike Barrett 1, Jesse O'Hanley 1
Ref: Simon Peach
Photos by Steve Cluney.